Moderator's Snapshots

Epiphany - Whitehaven URC

As we mark Epiphany, a moment of revealing light in the travels of the Magi, my snapshot was taken just before Christmas on a visit to Whitehaven URC on the west coast of Cumbria. This thoughtful stained glass creation greeted visitors into the Church – and with the bread and wine pointed to a deeper and far-reaching significance beyond a manger scene which otherwise is packed away until Advent in 11 months’ time.

So join with me in praying for:

  • the follow up by all out congregations with those who, like those wise men, visited over the Christmas season so that they can understand more deeply the impact of the light of Christ for their lives
  • the fresh opportunities within this New Year for each of our congregations to explore their God-given mission through new ventures within their community
  • all those who preach the Gospel week by week – that they may continue to be inspired and empowered by the move of the Holy Spirit
  • the growth of discipleship within each member of our congregations, not simply as a New Year’s resolution but rather with a resolve to be more faithful to Christ’s call upon our lives every day of our lives.

And I wish you all a very happy and blessed New Year.

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Views: 1871

Wharton & Cleggs Lane Church at Little Hulton

Last weekend on the third Sunday in Advent I had the pleasure in the afternoon of worshipping with the congregation at Wharton & Cleggs Lane Church at Little Hulton. Their special Carol Service was led musically by the talented Integra Brass Band and providing a striking accompaniment encouraging some strong singing.

This will be the sort of service that you will be part of during these few weeks before Christmas Day (albeit probably without a brass band!). What an amazing opportunity we have at this time of year to make the most of inviting people to share with us in our celebrations in order to glimpse the work of God afresh in the birth of Jesus, the one called Emmanuel.

Please pray for:

the joyous opportunities across the Synod in seeking to share the Gospel at the point of Jesus’ birth

the pastoral care and prayers of our congregations offered for those who struggle with this time of year, perhaps through the loss of close family members

the love of Christ which our Christian communities share through including those who are otherwise alone or isolated at this time of year

the additional support needed in many of our communities for those who rely on the essential work of homeless shelters, foodbanks and money advice at this time of year


Views: 2089

Northerly Synods Representatives' Meeting

Last week representatives from the five northerly Synods (ourselves, Scotland, Yorkshire, Mersey and Northern) met together and enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Windemere Centre and Carver Church. Once again we were grateful that our meeting was led and facilitated by the Moderator of the Synod of Wales, Simon Walkling.

Over the last few years this building of relationships has led to an evolving commitment to do better those things that we can do together. This has led us to explore issues together e.g. HR, finance & accounting, but also where some things make sense to a couple of the Synods this has resulted in cross-border collaboration. An example of this for our Synod is that we are working together with Mersey to finalise the partnership in dealing with all issues of safeguarding with a common policy and practice.

This, and other examples, are providing us with exciting models of good practice to be shared more widely and at the same time make better use of some of our precious people resources. However more deeply than resourcing is the biblical practice of working in partnership and fellowship with our sister churches wherever we can.

Please pray for:

  • our continued partnership and work across the five northerly Synods
  • the other eight synods within our denomination as they too explore different patterns of working in fruitful ways together
  • the different working groups of the northerly Synods as they meet during 2017 and seek to develop new areas for us to share: Human Resources group; Finance; Being Church; Safeguarding; Communications; Listening and Reconciliation
  • the start of a new exploration into how we foster children’s and youth work across the five synods, and areas where we may support one another



Views: 1949

A Service of Hope and Expectation at Carlisle Cathedral

On Sunday afternoon I was present at Carlisle Cathedral for “A Service of Hope and Expectation with a Celebration of Covenant and Companionship in the Ecumenical County of Cumbria” as we entered the season of Advent. What an appropriate time for such a recognition to take place. After a further five years of work since the first Agreement our Cumbria Area President, the Revd Sarah Moore, was able to sign this significant Covenant document on behalf of the Cumbria Synod Area. The other 3 signatories to the Covenant were the Anglicans, Methodists, and Salvation Army in Cumbria.

Alongside this a letter of support and companionship was signed by four representatives for the Religious Society of Friends in Cumbria, the Roman Catholic Church, the North Western Baptist Association, and the Church of Scotland (Border Kirk). The continuing work and partnership in Cumbria is focused around the areas of ministry, mission, and buildings. Cumbria offers a model of working which can provide us with encouragement in seeing what is possible both at a local level and at a wider geographical area. Please pray for:

  • the Cumbria Ecumenical project as it develops significantly over the next 5 years
  • the formation of Mission Communities in the different local areas within Cumbria where a common ministry is shared within a locality, and ministry is provided by any of the denominations dependant on the mission needs
  • each of our Synod Areas in fostering ecumenical relationships, and the opportunities in each locality of identifying ways in which we can share mission, ministry and buildings – especially while we have the vitality to do these things
  • -a shared vision with Cumbria for “God for all”: that every single person within our communities may be given the opportunity to hear the good news of the Gospel of Jesus


Views: 1913

News from Synod Executive Committee Meeting

Last week the group set apart by the Synod Executive to consider all the aspects raised by the deployment concerns we have, the Future Patterns of Ministry steering group, met at Luther King House for the day (I’m pinned against the wall screen in order to try and get everyone in the photograph). As a group we considered several key issues and identified who was going to do the further work necessary before we meet as a Synod in March 2017 (25th) and how the consultation with all our congregations within the Synod will be continue to happen. Some of the major areas we addressed were prayer within the life of the Synod, a deployment policy for future stipendiary ministry, a deployment strategy for the way in which the Synod’s congregations will be connected with each other, and the development and support of all ministries across our churches including that provided by NSMs, retired ministers, local church leaders etc. In particular, we worked with Lawrence Moore on “missional discipleship” which is an emphasis on us all being disciples with an outward focused mission and a sense of purpose where we make a difference in the world together. We also noted the introductions that are being made of small percentages of “released” stipendiary ministry by some congregations (approx. a third of our current stipendiary ministers are being “released”) to enable some supportive work in prioritised and targeted ways with a few other congregations in the Synod.

Please pray for:

  • all those on the Steering Group, the Synod Pastoral Committee, and others who have given freely of their time to work on developing these areas ready for the March 2017 Synod meeting (for many this is on top of all that they do – mostly in a voluntary capacity – to support us in our work together)
  • the careful and prioritised use of “released” stipendiary ministry in the short term, and all those involved in the conversations needed to make this precious gift fruitful in its use
  • those who give freely of their time within all our committees to enable us to support one another across all our congregations
  • the Synod as it tries to identify key new people from within our congregations who will serve: Convener of the Synod Pastoral Committee; as Conveners of the South Area Pastoral Committee, the Central Area Pastoral Committee, the Lancashire Area Pastoral Committee (three different people); and the role of Synod Treasurer – all from March 2017.


Views: 2011

Training at the Windermere Centre

This week I had the privilege of undertaking some training at the Windermere Centre along with seven others, including 2 other Moderators and the denomination’s Church and Society coordinator. The training was led by Jane Baird and Helen Bird from Church House, taking us through many issues concerned with HR (Human Resources). Along with many other areas of Church life we are properly needing to pay greater attention to the society around us and exercising responsible care and support for those who offer service within the life of the church, either a employees or in a volunteer capacity.
Please pray for:

  • the staff at Church House who are acting as a hub which sustains core issues within our common life
  • those from Church House, our Resource Centres for Learning, and the Synod who provide us with training and equipping in many areas that affect the way in which we minister and help us to fulfil the commission of Christ within our local communities
  • those involved in the consultation process concerning the future of the Windermere Centre (leading up to any decisions to be taken at the May 2017 meeting of Mission Council)
  • the Revd Dr Tim Mountain, our newly appointed Learning and Development Officer (a jointly shared role with Northern College) as he begins to find his way around the Synod and as he gets to know us and how we tick.


Views: 1889

Light Seeds

In May I enjoyed leading worship with the folk at The Church at the Centre at Tonge Moor. As they celebrated their 10th anniversary we reflected on the lectionary Psalm 97 and a focus on verse 11 (The Message translation by Eugene Peterson):

"Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people,

Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil."

Within the service we planted Russian Giant sunflower seeds. I am grateful to Sue for this wonderful picture that showed just how tall the sunflowers could growth. The world needs those "light-seeds" within God's people to see lives transformed, and for communities to experience the justice, joy and peace of the Kingdom of God.

Please pray for:

  • the world as (whatever your political views) it comes to terms with the election today of Mr Trump as the next US president
  • for the “light-seeds” to be planted and rooted in the lives of God’s People that we will grow in discipleship as we walk more closely with Jesus as individuals and as Christian communities
  • for the light of our congregations within the Synod to plant seeds of the Gospel in the communities where they are – please think of the 3 nearest URC congregations to you and pray particularly for their life and witness as part of God’s mission in their localities
  • for God’s people to be renewed by the joy of the Gospel, and equipped for works of service in response to God’s love in Christ for all people


Views: 1905

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